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Iranian official says U.S. letter has nothing new

(Xinhua)

08:36, January 17, 2012

TEHRAN, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- A top advisor to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Monday that the recent letter of the United States to the Islamic republic's supreme leader has nothing new, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Asked by the reporters about the content of the U.S. letter, Ali-Abar Velayati said here that "This letter bears no new words."

Velayati did not elaborate further on the content of the letter, said Fars.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast confirmed on Sunday that Iran had received a letter from the United States over the Strait of Hormuz.

Mehmanparast said the U.S. administration had delivered three copies of the letter to Iran through different channels, including via Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the U.S. representative to the United Nations Susan Rice, the Iranian representative to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei, and Swiss Ambassador to Tehran Livia Leu Agosti.

"The Islamic republic is studying the letter and will respond to it if it is necessary," Mehmanparast said.

Mehmanparast did not elaborate on the content of the U.S. letter either.

The New York Times reported Friday that the United States had used a secret channel to send a letter to Khamenei over Iran's threats of closing the strategic waterway of Hormuz Strait. The report said the United States warned in the letter that closing the strait would be crossing a "red line" and would provoke a response.

Some Iranian government and military officials have threatened that Iran will close Hormuz Strait if its oil exports are sanctioned by the West.

After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report on Iran's nuclear program in November, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions against Tehran.

Also, the United States and its Western allies are considering sanctions on Iran's oil exports for its insistence to pursue the controversial nuclear program.

On the potential embargo on Iran's oil exports, Velayati said Monday that "Oil is not a commodity to be able to put sanctions on. It can be sold in a number of ways and the Islamic republic can sell its oil easily," according to Fars.

"As usual, the demand for Iran's oil is more than the country's outputs," he was quoted as saying.

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